The aura of OPI is now far vaster than I ever could have imagined or hoped for. It exists beyond me and beyond even the brand itself, because of the millions and millions of OPI fans all over the world who have taken up the mantle and created something new and invigorating for themselves. Their creativity is amazing to behold.

If you want to see true artists at work, go to your favorite social media sites and search nail art hashtags and see what people are doing with OPI products. (I’ve been particularly surprised and delighted by how nail artists are using negative space and leaving part of the nail naked, a trend you now see reflected in fashion as well. I love it.) Or check out what’s happening with classic looks—an elegant French manicure, a bold red that pops, the beautiful blush of a neutral—and you’ll find plenty of beauty and inspiration. The variety of what you can achieve with OPI is much of the point: we gave women the tools and the means to choose from any hue of the rainbow and to express themselves in any way they wished.

We also expanded the conversation far beyond “nail polish” or a single, self-contained beauty product. Instead, what’s possible with OPI Nail Lacquer goes well beyond the constraints of a half-ounce bottle. It represents travel, food, escape, dreams, self-expression, luxury, aspirations.

It gives people a small but powerful tool to show the world who they are and who they want to be. Women who have found their voice and their personal style and sense of self are women who break barriers and change the world.

Women who have found their voice and their personal style and sense of self are women who BREAK BARRIERS and CHANGE THE WORLD.

That certainly happened for me. Through OPI, I was able to find my true voice and my purpose in life and make a lasting difference. Because of OPI, my life has been an adventure I never, in my wildest dreams, could have imagined. I mean it from the bottom of my heart when I say if I can do this, anybody can. It is entirely within your grasp to create your own life of passion, fulfillment, creativity, and success.

So now for thirty-seven years (and counting), I’ve worked to satisfy our consumers’ thirst for color in every imaginable hue, dimension and texture. I am so grateful that I continue to have a very unique opportunity to help people achieve their aspirations by feeling more confident in themselves through OPI—and I am excited about what the next decades will bring.

“Take the first step in faith,” Martin Luther King, Jr. said. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” These are words I have long cherished. In a nutshell, that’s how we created and built the best nail care company in the business. We took one step and then another, and another, and another, feeling our way through each and every one.

Accomplishment is a long journey that is built on small, daily acts of faith that build into a beautiful outcome of a larger vision. OPI taught me to dare to take the staircase even though I couldn’t see the steps. It inspired me to be bold enough to reinvent the beauty category. The result is unrivaled love and loyalty for our brand.

So when I speak to audiences, it doesn’t matter if it’s an auditorium of six hundred MBA students or a thousand executives from the beauty and fashion industries or a dozen seniors at a local high school. I go in with confidence and gratitude, and I tell my story of overcoming tremendous odds to become the person standing before them today.

I tell the story of how George Schaeffer and I, along with the most dedicated and loyal employees in the world, saw our dreams come true.

I tell an immigrant story, of fleeing a place of oppression and fear and starting over from scratch—not once but twice. Of working very, very hard to learn a language and a culture and make a living.

I tell them a story of family. Of how I was shaped by loving, generous parents. Of how I was able to become a leader in a male-dominated industry and be a fully engaged wife and mother through the unwavering support of my parents Laszlo and Magda Weiss, my sister Miriam, and my husband, Dr. George Fischmann. I tell a story of my children, Andrea and Andrew, who are my joy and my constant inspiration.

I tell them a story of women’s empowerment. Of how I evolved from a timid, awkward, shy schoolgirl who barely spoke to the business leader known worldwide as the First Lady of Nails. And of how women everywhere are able to use OPI’s products to express their individual styles and personalities and to feel more confident and beautiful.

I tell them the story of an industry disruptor. Of how OPI changed the conversation of nails and elevated the entire industry. Of how it brought beauty and color and luxury to everyone, of how it made color and self-expression exciting and sexy, of how it made salon manicures relevant and essential.

I tell them all the story of success borne of passion and tenacity and hard work. And of overwhelming, joyful love.

Excepted from I’m Not Really A Waitress: How One Woman Took Over the Beauty Industry…One Color at a Time. Copyright © 2019 by Suzi Weiss-Fischmann. Published by Seal Press.